The research shows that the year's most effective brand integration--in terms of generating a shift in positive brand opinion--occurred on ABC's now-cancelled "Miracle Workers" reality show, in which physicians tried novel, life-changing surgeries.
Audiences reacted strongly to CVS Pharmacy's role in covering the costs of medications that patients needed after the surgeries. IAG showed a brand opinion index--which measures shift in positive brand opinion--of 330, compared with a 100 average for all brand placements.
Similarly, audiences had a favorable impression of Sears' role in providing furniture, clothes, appliances and other staples for struggling families whose homes are transformed on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The popular show posted an index of 304--third in the rankings.
The remainder of the top-five most-effective placements included second-ranked GMC's integration into Bravo's "Queer Eye," where the "Fab Five" drove SUVs to their makeover clients (index 325); fourth-ranked 7-Eleven's integration into NBC's "The Apprentice," where would-be business whizzes squared off to best promote a new pizza sandwich (294); and fifth-ranked Saturn, which gave the winning designer on Bravo's "Project Runway" a 2007 model (292).
The indices measure the percentage of viewers that both recalled a brand and mentioned a positive shift in opinion of the brand, based on the placement.
This explains why, despite declining ratings and criticism about execution, "The Apprentice" may still offer a valuable marketing platform.
In addition to the overall rankings, "The Apprentice" also performed well in IAG's rankings of top integrations when a commercial did not air during the show to reinforce brand recognition.
In the "without ad adjacency, single episode" category, the 7-Eleven integration came in first (index of 332), followed by a Norwegian Cruise Lines integration in another episode where teams battled to create the most appealing commercial for the travel company (index 288).
Ratings for "The Apprentice" have steadily declined since its highly successful debut in the spring of 2004. Plus, the show has been criticized for turning much of its content into promotional opportunities. The Chicago Tribune wrote that the Donald Trump-fronted show "routinely doubles as an infomercial."
Still, the IAG research offers evidence that marketing messages are getting through in a manner that marketers--and consumers--deem satisfactory.